My Plant-based Guide to Amsterdam & Berlin
Hi everyone! I know this is a little different than the usual recipe post, but something that many of you may not know about me is that I'm extremely passionate about traveling! When I'm not experimenting kitchen, I'm probably plotting my next adventure - whether it be a weekend road trip to a new city in the US, or an international excursion. Most recently, I journeyed a good 14+ hours across the world to Amsterdam, my ancestral home (& roots of my last name actually)! My boyfriend and I were able to snag a ridiculously amazing flight deal from Scott’s cheap flights, and booked the trip on a complete whim! While in Europe, we also flew to Berlin, Germany and drove through Bruges & Ghent in Belgium. Yes, in 10 days this may seem pretty ambitious - and it definitely was. That being said, it was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken!
From strolling through endless museums (I’m kind of an art history buff), to climbing to the top of a bell tower, to eating vegan bitterballen and trying copious amounts of european kombucha flavors, we made some amazing memories. That being said, our trip would not have been as magical without some planning! I will write another blog post about how I like to plan my trips another time, but especially when dietary needs are a concern, a little research goes a long way for traveling (both domestically and internationally).
This is the list of restaurants I tried while in these various European cities (mostly Amsterdam and Berlin). Lots are from suggestions (thank you if you suggested one!) or personal searches through TripAdvisor & Google. Although 90% of them were positive, there were a few faux pas - i.e., accidentally eating dairy + gluten even though being told certain dishes were safe for me to eat. I recognize that this is a reality of traveling to foreign countries where language may be a concern, and just eating out honestly. Thankfully, the discomfort for me did not last long and only happened at 2 places! As you will see, not all of these places are 100% vegan. I am plant-based, but will occasionally eat fish + eggs, so I wanted a breadth of restaurants. That being said, each restaurant does have dairy + gluten-free options, as well as many vegetarian options.
Eating at De Kas was unlike anywhere I've ever been. For starters, it's situated in a greenhouse surrounded by gardens, which you romantically cross a bridge to get to. Everything they use is grown in-house or on their larger farm outside of Amsterdam, and the menu is determined by the produce they have available (so it can change depending on the day/week)! Although the dinner menu is a set 5 course tasting menu, the kitchen was extremely considerate of my dietary needs, and had no problem slightly modifying dishes to be vegan and gluten-free.
As a self-proclaimed veggie foodie, let me just say - De Kas knows their vegetables & flavors. Some of my favorite dishes were the cassava + tapioca crispy crackers with celery dipping sauce, potato ‘pasta’ with fresh truffles, and the caramelized pear and hazelnut dessert. I have tried a lot of vegetables at various restaurants, but the flavor pairings here were striking (great balance of spice, fat, acidity, and just enough sweetness).
Expect to spend a few hours here to properly enjoy the experience. We arrived at 6:30 for dinner and left around 9:30pm. The service was thoughtful and attentive from the beginning, making sure I had the proper dishes for my needs; providing different dipping sauces and breads for both me and my boyfriend. All in all, I cannot recommend De Kas enough! I am eagerly awaiting my next trip to Amsterdam so that I can dine here again.
Bonus points: as a parting gift, we were given delicious red apples freshly picked from their orchard. Pinch me now!
If you want a unique michelin dining experience packed with complex yet inviting flavors, exceptional service, and a cozy ambiance, look no further, because Blue Pepper is for you! I picked out this restaurant because I heard amazing things about the Indonesian cuisine in Amsterdam, and wanted a new food experience for my birthday. They had no problem accommodating my dietary needs, and even made me vegan and gluten-free bitterballen, so I could say I’ve tried one of the traditional Dutch foods! Like De Kas, Blue Pepper has a set tasting menu, except, instead of one option, you have three: a more traditional, a progressive, and (most recently) a vegan option. Although the menu has five courses, it was different than many restaurants that I’ve tried in that it actually felt like MORE! I won't give the surprise away, but the palette cleanser they give you before dessert is what really knocked our socks off! In short, you know you’ve dined at a truly special place when one of the chefs takes the time to tell you about the ingredients used in each dish. In fact, I was even sent home with a jar of fresh kentjur carrots and the kemiri nuts so that I could them in my own cooking! Really an unforgettable experience.
Want some of the fluffiest gluten-free, vegan pizza crust in the WORLD? Well pack your bags and head to Mastino. This casual eatery is family-run, specializing in delicious pizza and funky hip vibes. They import their crust from Italy and make new batches of dough every two hours, so you can taste the freshness. Even more remarkable (besides the fact that the restaurant is 100% vegan+ + gf) is the VEGAN CHEESE. In the states, most of the dairy-free cheeses I’ve tried have been filled with sketchy ingredients or never melt completely. Well, Mastino uses a Dutch company Wilmersburger as their main cheese (coconut-based), in addition to making a variety of their own nut-cheeses in house. We tried the veggie pizza and traditional cheese. To be honest, I wanted to try the whole menu! Prices here are a little higher for a personal pizza, but are to be expected with the quality ingredients they use. We came for an early dinner and had no problem grabbing a table, but later in the evening I could see the place getting busy, as they have events and live music on some nights. Also note- it’s only open for dinner from 5-10pm!
Beter & Leuk
An adorable cafe offering delicious vegan and gluten-free options (in addition to some egg dishes as well). The space is small and charming, with a little bit of quirk as it also has clothes and accessories for sale (a trend I found in many Amsterdam cafes). My boyfriend had the baked egg dish and I opted for the vegan, gluten-free pancakes! They weren’t traditional Dutch style pancakes (thin), but more hearty with flax seeds, banana, and maple syrup. The portion was generous and topped with chia seeds, watermelon, banana and apple. Let’s just say they were so good, I had none left over for sharing. Although service is on the slower side (there are only two cooks in the kitchen!), I would go back for those pancakes. I highly recommend getting there early or making a reservation though! I also heard they have a high tea which I want to try next time...
The Lobby Nesplein
Go here for a cozy, intimate dinner! It's a hotel restaurant, but that didn't bother us at all - every table is candle-lit and the service is top notch. They were completely understanding of my dietary needs and provided me with my own deliciously warm gluten-free rolls. Every veggie dish was great, as were their fish options! Meat-eaters and plant-eaters can definitely dine well here.
If you’ve been following me for awhile, you know about my love affair with Indian food. The spices used in Indian cuisine are so comforting and interesting to me, that I always have an eye out for new spots. I was extremely excited when I saw a slew of vegan and gluten-free Indian restaurants in Amsterdam, and knew I had to try at least one...In fact, I enjoyed the food at Tulsi so much, that I dragged my boyfriend back for a second time on our last night in Amsterdam! As someone who has had A LOT of Indian food, that’s a big pretty deal.
I highly recommend the okra, eggplant, and tarka dal - just make sure to confirm with the chef if the dish can be made dairy-free/vegan before ordering. We ordered saag (a spinach dish) after our waitress said it could be made dairy-free without paneer, only to discover after that it was still made with real cream. As a result, I definitely had a bad stomach ache, but to be honest it was incredibly delicious and I do not regret eating it. Tulsi may not be the place for someone with very serious allergies though, as they cannot guarantee no cross-contamination.
Ivy & Bros
Hip cafe with ridiculously yummy lunch options. You can sandwich a salad (and vice versa). Also similar to Beter & Leuk in that you can buy various items in the cafe as well. I ordered the vegetable salad with a side of gluten-free bread as well as smoked salmon. The salad itself was 100% vegan though, with greens, chickpeas, sweet potato, asparagus, and various other veggies dressed in olive oil. I wish we had more time or else I definitely would have come back here!
Cute casual cafe with a few locations around the city. You can order from a menu or make a DIY bowl with quinoa, greens, and lots of delicious veggies/protein. I highly recommend the tempeh, as well as their soups! They also have kombucha and raw desserts here - both of which are absolutely delicious. Great for a quick healthy meal - and free wifi (yasss).
CT coffee & Coconuts
Our first stop from the plane! I had the bibimbap bowl, which was good but not great. I also tried their banana coconut pancakes, and those were very good. May not have the most extensive menu for vegan + gluten-free folk, but it's a great trendy place to grab coffee + work. To be honest though, it kinda felt like I was back in LA!
A charming lil ALL VEGAN grocery store. Vegan donuts, vegan cheesecakes, vegan wraps, the list goes on. This place is definitely worth a quick stop - I tried the carrot cake and loved every morsel.
To my surprise, there is NO shortage of delicious juiceries in Amsterdam! Juice Brothers was one of my favorites though. Also be sure to check out their Haarlemmerplein location for vegan ice cream from Brookyln-based shop Van Leeuwen, The mint chip and pistachio flavors are mind blowing!
This cafe is closer to the city center, and offers a lot of cozy breakfast/brunch options. There is also an amazing selection of fresh veggie salads at the front - you can choose a variety to make a meal out of. I thoroughly enjoyed the salads I tried and my vegetable chili - except some of my order was lost in translation, and the crème fraîche ended up on top of my chili. Additionally, although I was told they have gluten-free bread, the staff could not guarantee it's ingredients, so I opted to not risk it.
This is not a restaurant, but more like the Whole Foods of Amsterdam! I could spend hours browsing through the aisles - there are so many yummy, allergy-friendly goodies. Stocked with pre-made salads, bowls, juices, etc & you can find local kombucha and dairy-free cheeses here too!
This vegan eatery is close to the East Side Gallery of the Berlin wall, and is situated on top of a fully vegan grocery store called Veganz. The grocery store itself is pretty remarkable (you can eat there as well in a small little corner), but I loved the restaurant! I got the beetroot falafel bowl which was just as delicious as it was visually appealing. You can't miss their baked sweet potato fries and housemade ketchup either - definitely some of the best I've ever had.
For starters, I am not normally a fan of raw foods (besides dessert), so I was a bit hesitant to try Rawtastic, especially given the fact it was rainy and in the mid 50's while we were in Berlin. That being said, this restaurant BLEW ME AWAY. Run, do not walk. We split a pizza and the sampler plate, and could barely finish everything! So. Much. Beautiful. Food. I wish I had room for dessert, because their cakes looked fabulous as well. Great kombucha here too!
LOVE THIS PLACE. It was super close to our hotel and is the perfect lil cafe for a visually appealing (and nourishing) meal. Also, there are bananas hanging from the kitchen ceiling and a large tree branch protruding from the register - aka, alllll the hipster vibes. I came for breakfast and lunch - Highly recommend the acai bowl, buckwheat porridge, and charcoal hummus bowl (so creative and delish)!
I am not Keto (lol, dairy-free, meat-free) but I know a lot of people who are, and I was curious to try some baked goods! A lot of their cookies and cakes are not dairy-free (butter), but most of their muffins are - and the cinnamon ones are DELICIOUS. You can also find sugar-free sweeteners here and kale chips...score!
Simply Organic Foods & Liquids
This healthy cafe is literally across the street from Daluma! They similarly have a bunch of vegan + gluten-free friendly breakfast and lunch options. Although I preferred the bowls I had at Daluma, I think the juices at Simply Organic are better.
Rice & Royals
Found this vietnamese fusion restaurant on a whim, and am so happy we stopped in for dinner! The menu is extensive and clearly states the allergens in each dish. I had the vegan kimchi & curry - both were DELICIOUS and totally vegan + gf! The space itself is pretty cozy too, and they have options for everyone (burger-lovers, vegans, etc).
Putting this place on the list because it had one of the most impressive gluten-free aisles I've seen in a supermarket! Not just because of the quantity, but because of the ingredients as well! Needless to say I stocked up on various breads/crackers/rolls.
I did not get around to trying this spot, but there are a couple locations around Berlin and they have gluten-free + vegan pizza options! Huzzah!
We also drove through Belgium for a couple days and had some remarkable meals, so I’m throwing these in as well:
A vegan/vegetarian friendly restaurant tucked in the cozy streets of Bruges. Most definitely a hidden gem and one of its kind in the area! This is the perfect place to enjoy a nicer dinner, and really 'eat with your eyes'. I had (hands down) the best vegan, gluten free lasagna of my life - it was made with no pasta, just good ole veggies and an amazing housemade vegan cheese. Because the produce organic and sourced by local farmers, their menu can vary given the week/season. But if the lasagna is still there - GET IT. Fun fact? The owner opened the restaurant with his girlfriend, who is the only chef in the kitchen. Also crazy? She's only 26 and concocts some of the most delicious plant-based dishes I've ever had!
Super cute cafe in Ghent, specializing in veggie bowls (DIY or choose from menu). Kind of like a chipotle concept, but ridiculously healthy. They also have a ton of yummy gf+vegan sweets, organic wines, and... (drumroll please)...KOMBUCHA! Apparently they also have a location in NYC as well, which I found to be cool but random!